Das MPI-M trauert um Benjamin Möbis

photo: © MPI-M, Benjamin Möbis

photo: © MPI-M, Benjamin Möbis

Nachruf von Professor Bjorn Stevens, Direktor der Abteilung Atmosphäre im Erdsystem am Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

"Dear All,
Benjamin Möbis died over the weekend. He was scuba diving.  
I don’t know any details. What I do know is that after learning to dive while in the IMPRS, he quickly became passionate about it, and it was a constant pastime for him in Australia.  
What can I say?  Nothing really … even so…

Benjamin was among the first group of students to start working with me at MPI. I still remember his interview, when we asked him the 'free thinking' question ... and after a pause he explained that he was a physicist and he would answer the question on the basis of observations he has made of his plants. This procedure concluded with a quite satisfactory answer. Benjamin loved his plants, and they taught him many things… and he us.

Benjamin was someone who had ideas, he was always working on ideas, models, programmes, theories. He deeply wanted to understand the world, but on his terms. Sometimes he lacked the language, or was reluctant to learn about the world through other people´s eyes, and this could make it hard to find a way to express his own ideas as he developed them. But he never lacked ideas or insight, and I was often impressed how he would derive something that while perhaps known, he figured out quite independently, in his own way, and it often came with a new twist. If you were willing and able to enter his world, which wasn’t always easy, it offered a wonderful opportunity to see an original and clever mind at work.

Benjamin was intellectually fearless. I fondly remember, and often recall, when Cathy, Thorsten and I would meet with him to discuss and help with his effort to rewrite the convection scheme. Once I made a careless mistake during my exercise of proof reading and correcting a routine he had written, and he patiently but determinedly explained how I was going about things incorrectly and how I should better behave next time … I often felt like his student. I think Benjamin enjoyed giving the three of us what amounted to three or four 3hr lectures on convective parameterization and programming. Sometimes it might seem that he was making odd choices, but usually they made sense, and always they were thoughtful.

In this figure I put together some figures I found as I went through Benjamin’s old emails today. Maybe they give you a hint of what he was like, but if not ask someone who knew him, Karsten, Matthias Retsch, Daniel, Thorsten Traute, Monica, Sebastian all worked closely with him at different times. In addition to the plants, and the freedom and adventure he discovered while diving, the pictures hopefully give you a sense of the palette he used to paint his understanding of the world of convection, an understanding that was at the very forefront of the field.

I will miss Benjamin, as will all those who got to know and appreciate a kind and original person.